Issue # 2 late June 1991 (A.S. XXVI)


with some envelope art

Other Issues:

#1 | #3 | #4 | #5
#6 | #7 | #8 | #9
#10 | #11 | #12
#13 | #14 | #15
#16 | #17 | #18
#19 | #20 | #21

Notes on this issue
coming soon

ThinkWell TNG
current online ThinkWell

ThinkWell is a journal for the exchange of ideas among members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. It is an independent, private publication, and not representative of any group or subgroup within the Society.


In my opinion ThinkWell is a Good Thing, and I am curious to see how it develops along¬side the computer networks/bulletin boards dedicated to SCA topics, read and enjoyed, In our corner of the Knowne World, we've been saving the SCA with latenight gabfests for years. I'm grateful someone has the gumption, time, and desktop muscle to try and codify the course of discussions if only so that those in the future will perhaps have the option of not having to re-invent the wheel at every juncture (new, Bush-approved verbiage). 1:30 a.m…can't sleep for a variety of reasons [one being] excitement about a wonderful and new publication—ThinkWell. I got #1 from my husband who got it from the kingdom herald who got it from? I look forward to future issues. [From someone who subscribed before it came out:] I had been assuming the name was a play on 'Inkwell' and 'Think well.' ["Think well" was my first thought, and the thinktank stuff was a later joke. "Inkwell" is good!] -AE] AElflaed! ThinkWell! How very fine to hear from you—both! I'm writing 'cause I want to get in on the "Thinkwell" bandwagon. I LOVE THE NAME and subtitle! I am ever so happy to know that there are others of us out there that never give up! It looks to be a very interesting exercise! Interesting enough to invest $10 in anyway. Good luck on the periodical! looks interesting…count me in! … Looking forward to the next issue. THINKWELL is wonderful! I have long thought we needed something like this that was less ephemeral than the nets, and more easily available to those of us who don't have net access. I appreciate the trouble you took to hunt me down! What a magnificent idea ThinkWell is (pause for applause)! I do look forward to reading ThinkWell #2.


I'm sending two copies in each mailing so that you can pass one to another interested person. I've heard that some people were offered more than one of #1 (or got one from me and then had others try to give them a copy). If this happened to you, you should be flattered and should definitely write. It means people value your opinion.

If you're in the boonies or if the day comes when everyone you can think of is a subscriber, you could keep one copy clean and write on the other.

I knew you'd understand.


There's a lot of truth to what you say. For example, in Calontir, there has been a sometimes-noisy division between the southwestern groups and the eastern groups, about a whole host of matters, from the running of crown tournament to the relative power of monarchs, to the importance of certain arts, and on and on. Notably, the people in eastern Calontir hold opinions close to the people in the Middle Kingdom (although the kingdom border is very rarely crossed) and the people in Kansas follow practices akin to those in the Outlands.…

However, have you considered: This is just one aspect to the fact that the SCA is overlaid on real people. Let's look at it from an individual point-of-view; If Mr. Jones is a nice guy, he'll make a nice king. If he's a jerk, no award or state in the SCA is going to make him courteous and generous below the surface. The SCA doesn't engender personality traits, it merely encourages those virtues we feel are appropriate to a civilized, kindly, courteous society.

—Christian d'Hiver, Calontir

The generalities are true and can be summed up by statements like "…the East is full of Yankees." My question is—how would an outsider sum up An Tir?

The mood of a city does determine the success, failure or stagnation of an SCA branch. Different parts of kingdoms are like differences between kingdoms and this makes the administration of a large kingdom very interesting…to put it nicely.

— The Honorable Lord Gwilym Moore de Montfort, Seneschal of An Tir

Your regional thesis generally holds true—lots and lots of intra-SCA rivalries are fuelled by modern conflicts. In Australia, for example, Aneala (the branch in Perth) held out of the Principality for a long time and is still a tad uneasy in it, all in good part because Western Australians haven't trusted Eastern Australians ever since the governmemt announced it wouldn't defend the western coast if it was invaded during World War II. And I'm sure a lot of the differences between Caid and the Mists are differences between Los Angeles and San Francisco. On the other hand, I've read the correspondence between the SCA Inc. and the Eastrealm in the late 60's and early 70's, and there's nothing laid back about it at all. Ask Master El of the Two Knives about Pennoncel sometime (from a safe distance). It looked to me as though the Board and Corporate Officers had a very clear vision of what the SCA ought to be and they weren't getting much respect for it from the people playing SCA around them, so they tried to tell the rest of the Known World that was how it was and had to be. They had some former Californians in New York who were reporting in detail and attempting to apply instructions they received, though not with vast success. (It's been several years since I went through the files, but that's my most vivid impression of them.)

Another thing that can affect the personality of a branch is the personality of the first few individuals in it. People who look in later stay if they like what they see—which isn't much of a factor in the usual mix of types but can be sort of scary if the initial group is heavily into political infighting or other vivid forms of variant behavior. (And I'm not going to name names, but I bet everyone can think of some examples… .)

— Mistress Hilary of Serendip, West (a triple peer and a Viscountess)

[I'm glad to be wrong about the tone of early materials. I do recall some Pennoncel tales now that you mention it. My theory was constructed from later activity and comments, I guess. — aelflaED]

"The first few individuals in a group" Hilary said, and I think of groups with a distinct "persona"—in a cult-of-person¬ality fashion, sometimes the founder has a preference as to period, type of music, style of feast, etc., and the influence lingers for years and years. "Like attracts like" is at work sometimes as well. A snooty group will be less likely to attract partiers than a group full of partiers will, and vice versa. There's not much to be done about that as far as I know. (If you have a idea for a cure, this is as good a place to send it as anywhere.)

— AElflaed of Duckford, Outlands

From here, it appears that some Kingdoms (mostly east of the Mississippi) are more concerned with appearance, while others (mostly along the Pacific Coast) are more concerned with essence. Thus in the eastern kingdoms one can hear (in almost every speech at court, it seems) long paeans to the awesome power and dread majesty of the King and the Crown. Rarely does anyone west of the Rocky Mountains seem moved to carry on in this fashion. But consider the contrast in these two cases:

1. Pennsic 3. I am mustered along with the army of the East, moving across the field at the start of a battle. The King of the East commands: "Go that way." Immediately, everything stops. The commanders of the half dozen units that make up the army gather with the King and talk, while the troops stand around in the sun. This goes on for 15 minutes or more (which seemed like thrice as long to all of us), at the end of which the commanders returned and the army does something else.

2. One of the early West-Caid Wars. The army of Caid is gathered on a knoll. The King of the West decides to march us along a road which requires us to march single file in column across their front. He stands at the point where we turn to start across their front, and MOST of the fighters take the occasion of passing the king to tell him that this is a stupid tactic and will get us wiped out if the Caidians charge down upon us. But we go.

Meanwhile, the King of Caid has two of his senior advisors pleading with him to sound the charge. (The opportunity is just as obvious to them as it is to us!) But he elects to wait until we have marched across their front, turned, and dressed our line, before advancing. And while he certainly hears about how foolish he is being, nobody in their army starts down the hill until he says "Go!"

If you only listen to what is said to and about the Crown you must conclude that the Eastern King is an absolute monarch and the Kings of the West and Caid get minimal respect. But if you look at whose orders get followed, you come to the opposite conclusion. There is nothing inherently wrong about either system, but the contrast between pro forma respect and actual obedience is rather striking.

— William the Lucky, West

Concerning regional differences: Yes! Absolutely! And you've only begun to scratch the surface! Most of the major differences in the kingdoms can be traced to either modern cultural differences (as you mention), or in some cases, to the early history of the SCA. For example, my understanding is that when the East Kingdom was formed as the first split-off from the original 'west' kingdom, it established its strong anti-monarchist traditions ("Eastern Rite") as a rebellion against the strong monarchist traditions ("Western Rite"), and perhaps desire to maintain control, of the West.

I did not visit Meridies enough when I lived on the east coast to know how true your statement is about them still being sore about the Civil War (in the context of the SCA), but I certainly saw a strong undercurrent of that in Atlantia, which, after all, includes parts of both the old north and south. But I think that even more than the north-south divisions, what I saw when I lived in the south (Spartanburg, SC) was the way that the SCA (and the people in it) were influenced by some of the old cultural feelings of the Southern Gentry. The 'upper classes' that lived in what were considered (at least by them) to be the 'cultured cities' in the south (e.g. Atlanta, & Charleston, SC) historically looked down upon their rural neighbors; that is: anyone who wasn't from where they were from, and of at least equal social rank. Unfortunately, I have met several people in the SCA from these places who carry on this not-so-great tradition (fortunately, however, they are the minority).

One thing that has been a constant in all of the places that I have lived is a 'we-they' animosity between the various regions within the kingdom: the Principality of the Mists (SF bay area) vs. the Principality of Cynagua (California's central valley) in the West Kingdom; Storvik (Washington D.C.) vs. the rest of the kingdom in Atlantia; everything north of Raton vs. everything south of Raton in the Outlands, etc. It's like the old satirical song by Tom Lehrer, entitled "National Brotherhood Week," whose lyrics read, in part:

Oh the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks,
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It's American as apple pie!
These conflicts generally don't erupt into actual warfare (figuratively speaking), but are a constant undercurrent in the affairs of the Kingdom. They generally in–volve one, two or all three of the following issues: 1) "We don't get to see the Crown often enough!" (which leads to. . .); 2) "We don't get enough recognition and awards!"; and 3) "We don't have enough of the 'power' in running the kingdom!," although #3 is generally couched in more polite terms.

I have noticed that these conflicts tend to have the side effect of inducing mental lapses in otherwise sane and rational people, particularly in the area of mathematics and geography! They become firmly convinced that it is (at least) twice as far for them to drive to the other end of the kingdom to attend an event as it is for someone from the other end of the kingdom to drive to where they live! It is also twice as much of an inconvenience for them, twice as hard for them to get Friday afternoon off from their job to make the drive, their children get twice as fidgety in the car, etc. Not to mention the fact that since it is obviously uphill all the way in both directions for them to drive, it must just as obviously be downhill all the way in both directions for the people at the other end of the kingdom, and so 'those other people' are the ones who are expected to travel...

— Master Hagar the Black, Outlands
(formerly of Caid, East, West and Atlantia)

I have generally found Kingdom differences and regional traits to be creatures of mixed parentage. While I find some specific Kingdom differences not to my personal preference (hitting like a "ton of bricks" in SCA combat comes immediately to mind), I am an enthusiastic supporter of "home rule" for Kingdoms. It is my belief that the Society as a whole gains immeasureably from the variety thus engendered, and I think any attempt to "homogenize" the SCA (however well-intentioned) would greatly detract from the culturally diverse organization which we have today. As for the matter of regional differences, I believe that they spring from the same loins as Kingdom differences, and that they also add to the diversity of what we do. Just as local groups have been colored by the attitudes and sensibilities of their founders and early leaders, so too do Kingdoms and regions take on the character of those people who guided these areas in their formative periods. This is a function of 1) cultural predisposition (most often expressed when referring to the South, usually by those outside the South, as "hell, no—I ain't fergittin'"); 2) personalities of the "leadership cadre" in the area, both individual and collective.

As for misunderstandings and the problems which arise from "SCA culture shock," most of these are a result of trying to apply standards out of context. The tendency to say "but that's not the way we did it back home" is both strong and natural. Whenever we get folks in Bryn Madoc who have transferred in from another SCA environment, I encourage at least an attempt at assimilation. Of course, it is sometimes the case that the SCA as practiced in one's new "home" is so alien to the organization that that person joined that they become inactive, sometimes permanently. Fortunately, these cases (at least to my experience) are few and far between. I'm not sure it's a problem in need of a cure—while it would be nice to have everyone in the organization, the fact remains that we're not for everyone, and it is also true that a fair number of folk who graze for a while with us "outgrow" us, and move on to other things of (presumably) greater consequence.

— Aedward of Glastonburh, Meridies

"HMMMM. The way I heard it when I was young and naive (1972-73) was that FIRST THERE WAS CALIFORNIA; then was founded the East Kingdom by a bunch of Sci-fi fans who had learned about the SCA through fandom and thought it was a groovy idea (in the parlance of the period) and started their own kingdom out here.

Now, I've been told that the founders on this coast subscribed to the newsletters and wrote to the BoD and Officers and asked questions, and basically never heard from California (the Orange Hole) except when they did something wrong and it got back to the Powers That Be. Then we got told to STOP THAT!

Examples of the above were the creation of a Palantine Knight and the awarding of the Knowne World's only Court Count title! Admittedly, the East made an alarming number of spectacular mistakes in its early years, but did so largely through a lack of guidance from The Establishment. (And we did ask, AElflaed, I saw copies of the letters back when I was kingdom seneschal.)

Anyway, the West begat An Tir and Caid and Atenveldt, and Atenveldt begat Ansteorra and Outlands and Meridies, which begat Trimaris. The East begat the Midrealm which begat Calontir, and Atlantia, and acquired Drachenwald in much the same way Prussia acquired much of Poland!

From this begetting of daughter Kingdoms arose a set of differing philosophies of how things work and what we do and why.

For the most part, the kingdoms descended from the East follow our peculiar logic; Atlantia is most like us, Midrealm least. The West-descended Kingdoms owe their legal structure and philosophies to some variation on the West.

East-descended Kingdoms tend to have less powerful kings who are hedged in with more restrictions and checks and balances. The West-descended Kingdoms lean more towards a less restricted, but more powerful crown. The most obvious example is that Western Law begins with the Principal that "The King's Word is Law" and in the East we discretely and delicately don't mention such a concept anywhere in our Laws.

REGIONAL DIFFERENCES: Oh my, yes! I think it may have something to do with how close packed we are in much of the East, but we actively strive for difference. Bhakail is unique; the groups in Delaware, South Jersey and neighboring PA counties, despite descent from us dissent from us!

Like almost every Eastern group, Barony or province level, my home group has gone through its ups and downs of population. This year the Seniors at University of Pennsylvania graduated the last of our students there. In the last three years we just haven't been able to pick up any more Penn students, so we will probably lose our usage of rooms at Penn for dance and fighter practice.

My personal theory is that we active Bhakailis are now an older crowd that doesn't mix well with the younger student types and most of our recruitment has therefore been in our own generation of "people with jobs." Perhaps the "greying of the SCA" is starting elsewhere?

Geography plays a very strong part in the SCA around here; we have very little to do with anyone or group to the west of where the folded Appalachians start (approx. Lancaster) and we aren't as attentive to S. Jersey as we are to NYC and Baltimore (which isn't even in our kingdom!).

Mountains (not that anyone west of the Mississippi would call them that) do a barrier make, however subtly. I-95 practically defines who hangs out with who; or is feuding with who. Right now, Bhakail and Bright Hills (Philly and Baltimore) are very close and would consider trying to form a principality (with some neighboring groups if they would like) if it wasn't for that Kingdom Border being in the way. We might try it anyway just to annoy the seneschals and heralds! (Historical Precedent—the Duchy of Burgundy.)

— "Bish," East (see intro following)


People who are not in the East or Atlantia but who have read board minutes, T.I., etc., for the past many years may remember references to "Rob." Although no one in the SCA except board personnel seem ever to have called this guy "Rob" to his face (or even behind his back), when he came onto the board he was asked to please give another name to use in board minutes than "Bish." There are places and people in the Society who find offense in people using ecclesiastical titles and personnae (I don't, but and if you want to comment on whether you do, go for it), but we here at ThinkWell are more or less "King's X" (don't ask which king) and so to make up for those years of tormenting Bish with "Rob," I will use "Bish." He wrote a long letter and here follows lots of it:

Yo, AElflaed!:

Thank you for the copies of ThinkWell. It's an interesting idea chat about the SCA and why we are here and what we are doing about it and all that. It isn't a subject that there is time or space to devote to in Kingdom or even local newsletters, and most of us who are opinionated and obnoxious about it have already bent the ears unto deafness of anyone in our immediate area who will listen.

Considering the number of people I know in the East who have "definite opinions," you should get a pretty good response out here in a few issues.

I'll try to cheerfully natter on some of the topics you've dredged up in your opening issue; before carrying on like that, however, I'll start with the traditional introduction and self-congratulation!


Hi! I'm Rob Himmelsbach, known in the SCA as Master Geoffrey d'Ayr of Montalban, aka Bishop Geoffrey, aka "Bish" and I live in the East Kingdom. I'm a Pelican and a Laurel and a Court Baron, and have my Kingdom Service and Arts awards (Silver Crescent and Maunche), local award (Salamander), other random alphabet stuff (Order of the Burdened Tyger—for autocratting above the call of sanity) and a whole big bunch of scrolls that I keep rolled up on the top of the china cabinet and never get around to hanging up anywhere!

I've been active in the SCA, all in Philadelphia (Barony of Bhakail) in the East Kingdom, for 191/2 years. At various moments in my history I have held such offices as Kingdom Herald, Deputy Kingdom Marshall, Kingdom Seneschal, Member of the BoD, Chairman of the BoD, and curmudgeonly elder statesman. Also lots of local/regional offices. I cook (Renaissance, Middle Eastern and assorted Oriental), do blackwork and other counted thread embroidery, and have recently gotten into costuming to the great joy of silk and linen merchants everywhere.

Mundanely I'm just 40, tall, thinnish (well, except for the inevitable spare tire) and work as a flunky in the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program of the Philadelphia Health Dept. where I beat the computer into submission and shuffle paperwork. (I hear the SCA is converting its data base into PARADOX which I've been working in for the last three years.)

Back to SCAdian again, I've never belonged to a household nor been squire/apprentice/whatever to anyone and generally maintain a cantankerous independence; recently I joined up with Clan Blue Feather (a loose network of gay, lesbian and bi SCAdians) which is about as close to organization as I can take.

I remain unconvinced that "chivalry" is anything more than an ideal, usually not even attempted, and when attempted not achieved, in the Society. I despise the use of the term "the Dream" in referring to the Society and its goals. And I have cheerfully dedicated myself to making the lives of "Authenticity Nazi" Laurels as painful as possible!

Well, now you know more than you cared to about who this twit is or thinks he is.


In my rarely humble opinion, the reason we are here is to study aspects of the culture and crafts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance by recreating them, and to teach ourselves how to better recreate them. As a "non-profit educational organization" most of our study/teaching is to ourself or amongst ourselves. We do share the fruits of our studies with the outside world in demos and other educational activities, but are, for the most part, inward looking. In addition, we attract (ensnare, corrupt) others and encourage them to learn both from us and from themselves what they find most attractive about this wide and varied historical period or its cultures. And yes, I do think that "cavalier/roundhead" and Japanese have as much of a place here as the "pre-seventeenth century Western European" cultures the organization was founded to study.



How many triple peers are there? (KSCA or MSCA, Pelican and Laurel) I know of these (and could list others I think are, but am leaving off any I'm not really positive on):

Raymond the Quiet Outlands
Stefan of the Wanderers Outlands
Cariadoc of the Bow Middle
Stephen of Lorraine West
Hilary of Serendip West
William the Lucky West
(see more information in this issue)
Lars the Fierce Calontir
Trude Lacklandia Atenveldt (or ?)
Leah de Spencer Atenveldt

Who has ruled more than one kingdom? Christopher of Hoghton (West/Atenveldt/Outlands)
[the only ruler of three] Cariadoc East/Middle
Finnvar East/Middle
Gyrth Oldcastle East/Atlantia
Melisande de Belvoir East/Atlantia
Frederick of Holland East/West
Lyn Whitewolf Atenveldt/Caid
Jonathan de Laufyson Atenveldt/Ansteorra
(How's his name spelled nowadays?)
Willow de Wisp Atenveldt/Ansteorra
Albert von Dreckenveldt Middle/Atenveldt
Selene of the Sky Middle/Atenveldt
Aaron Brek Gordon Meridies/Trimaris
Branwyn Meridies/Trimaris
Verron Meridies/Trimaris

QUESTION from Christian d'Hiver, who is currently historian of Calontir: "What percentage of the Society pronounces 'SCA' as three letters, like UFO, and how many pronounce it as a word, rhyming with 'bah?' Does anyone pronounce it so that it rhymes with 'nah' or 'say?' The vast majority of my acquaintances (although not all) pronounce it as three letters, all the time."

Bishop Geoffrey's letter uses the term "SCAdian." He's from Philadelphia. Mark your maps. —aelflaED

From Meridies (Master Aedward of Glastonburh): It's mostly S-C-A in this neck of the woods, with SCA as in Ska (like the music) coming in a distant second. Whilst travelling in Drachenwald a couple of years back, the term "SCAdians" (with a long A) seemed popular, particularly in England.

I've never heard "sca" as a word from anyone from Atenveldt or the Outlands, only from visitors from points East. We always say S-C-A in the Outlands. —aelflaED


Hoo, boy! Everyone is guilty of this to a greater or lesser degree (Mea Culpa!). I know of some people who now live in Bhakail and are from other parts of the East. Every other sentence begins "Well, in ________ we…"; and I remember many other people who came here from other Kingdoms and used the same line—in some cases from the Throne (ouch).

I'm quite sure that if I moved to another Kingdom, I'd be a bloody nuisance to everyone yammering on in the same manner or just flat out refusing to follow local custom. Just for example, I find the West Kingdom habit of reverencing the throne, even when it's empty, painfully counter to every principal I hold dear! If I moved to the West, I strongly suspect I'd be damned if I was going to do so, regardless of what everybody else was doing!

Our time and our place affect our thoughts; I unthinkingly make a "child of the 60's" reference and am greeted by blank looks from our few remaining students (whom I am old enough to have fathered…a depressing notion). It doesn't occur to us that time hasn't stopped where we did.

And how we were raised: (Radical Liberal Democrat Quaker) If I kneel in front of the throne, it's because I'm 6'3" and not made of glass, not because I necessarily respect the bozo with the funny hat!

In general, the SCA is or has a common culture, which is what brings us together. That culture isn't SW USA or Eastern Urban Liberal or remembering the 60's or even being a fighter or a Pelican or King. It's the diversity of a social and study group that allows me to dress up as an Elizabethan Bishop (Anglican, of course) for this event, and a Japanese courtier for the next, and a Saxon Baron at another; to cook for this event, be on clean-up for that one, teach blackwork there, men's kimono making here, and do nothing at all at the next event (and be bored silly).

What holds us all together, disparate as we are, is that most of us really are ladies and gentlemen about it and however much we may disagree with the interests and opinions of another, we cheerfully (if somewhat condescendingly) allow them to be different and have different tastes, ideas, values.

I think this is why, on the whole, the Clan Blue Feather has been greeted with a resounding shrug and "So?" by most SCAdians; some people like to dance, some like to fight, some like other guys, and some are Heralds…

Of course, MY way IS the BEST way, but…each to their own.

— Bishop Geoffrey / "Bish"
East Kingdom

Most people are proud of their home Kingdom. And properly so. And if they travel to another Kingdom, they frequently will trumpet (politely) the virtues of their home. There is nothing wrong, or exceptional, about this, and nobody gets excited if someone from Trimaris is praising his Kingdom in An Tir, or someone from the Outlands is doing the same in Atlantia. But, God help you if you go to any other kingdom and start a sentence "In the West we. . ."

The result, not surprisingly, is that anyone from the West who travels to other kingdoms quickly learns not to say anything about his home Kingdom and how things are done there. Even if specifically asked, most of us have been burned badly enough and often enough that we will try to avoid discussing the issue.

— William the Lucky, West

One area that you did not touch on in your discussion of ethnocentricity was that of standards by which awards are judged, particularly awards which carry across kingdom boundaries, such as peerage. In addition to being equal to each other, peers are supposed to be equal across 'international' boundaries. This is at least the principle, and is the way that things must work. However, in practice there are some discrepancies. A Laurel in Kingdom "X", for example, might not come close to measuring up to the standards for the Laurel in Kingdom "Y", while the Knights of Kingdom "Y" might fall like stalks of wheat beneath the swords of the Knights of Kingdom "Z", and the Pelicans in Kingdom "Z" might have had to do only half as much work to achieve their exalted rank as the Pelicans in Kingdom "X".

The most important thing is that the standards for judging such things are consistent within a kingdom, and appropriate to that kingdom. Perhaps the artistic standards of Kingdom "Y" overall are much higher, and so the Laurel still represents the top n% of artistic endeavor within that kingdom, just as the Laurel in Kingdom "X" may represent the same top n% of artistic endeavor there. Where this breaks down, of course, is when someone moves from one area to another, and has to either try and live up to the higher standards that they are expected to have in their new home, or to not 'lord it over' their new peers that they were held up to a higher standard in their old kingdom (and also try and adjust to their new kingdom's standards as quickly as possible in evaluating candidates for their order). The 'solution' to this 'problem' lies not in trying to normalize standards between kingdoms (any more than is done now), but in relying on those qualities of courtesy and noble bearing that presumably were part of the person becoming a peer in the first place.

—Master Hagar the Black, Outlands
(more biographical info
under "kingdom differences" section)

Ethnocentricity: and the dread "you'll have to hit me harder than that. . . ."

Well, it was inevitable that the first broaching of the "local standards" questions would come with conduct on the field, especially with reference to blow calibration. A lot of years ago I had to come to grips with the fact that I was trained with a tradition which is probably part of the lightest gauging section of the lightest gauging Kingdom in the Society.

This has meant that I have had to do some reshuffling in my fighting syle when I've traveled, not just outside of Meridies, but to the western parts of my own Kingdom as well. It has also meant that I have had to make some decisions about where I draw the line with respect to what I deem excessive force on the field, both in terms of what I can accept (as my body slides recklessly towards the backside of my delayed adolescence) and what I will deliver. I have discovered that I can not hit some individuals hard enough to kill them, and have been forced to yield the field. I have had some enthusiastic young-uns crease 12-gauge steel, and have decided to yield the field. There are a couple of individuals I refuse to fight because I believe them to be dangerous, and do not wish to endorse their behavior with my presence on the field. Happily, I can report that my limited experience is that Kingdom standards do not seem to be that widely divergent, and most of the extreme cases cited above are individuals, not part of an institutionalized movement to ignore standards of conduct on the field.

—Aedward of Glastonburh, Meridies

Baroness Jocelyn Crokehorne
(former kingdom seneschal)

I'm not an authority on An Tir, but there are a few things I feel it safe to say, so, for what it's worth:

  • We are called "An Tirian"s. Contrary to popular belief, we do not actually prefer to fight in the rain. We're just accustomed to it.
  • We have a plethora of baronies, but no principalities. The "P" word has recently been spoken aloud and even seen in print, but controversy is flaming. I don't think we'll see the birth of any principalities soon.
  • We have no sumptuary laws to speak of—even a newcomer can wear a simple band or circlet. Any evidence of bad taste would be dealt with one on one, but I don't know of a case where such action's been needed.
  • Our seneschals no longer stand duty except at courts.
  • I hear our fighters have a reputation for being hard hitters. Not being a fighter myself, I can only attest that when describing their battles, An Tirian fighters use words like "tink, tink" when describing the blows of foreigners (except the residents of the West, which are almost like family), and words like "bam!" to describe their own. Just an observation.
  • A great portion of our people live on the "I-5 Corridor" on the Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia coastlines. East of the Cascades, branches are smaller, and peers by far fewer. In fact, until a few years ago (although Eastern An Tir has been "civilized" for 12 years), there were no peers in Eastern An Tir, even though major kingdom offices have been held by Eastern An Tirians. But now as one begets two, and two beget three, three (as the Chinese proverb goes) beget ten thousand things. Eastern An Tir is catching up.
  • In An Tir, anyone may take an apprentice. What's "campaigning" for a peerage? Vigils are voluntary, and not always done.
  • Any paid member of the SCA who has been resident in An Tir for six months may fight in our crown lists, and we usually have between 40 and 60 fighters. We have many women fighters, and some choose to compete in the crown lists. To my knowledge, An Tir has only two lady knights.
  • An Tir has recently instituted "Crown Council" weekends, held twice a year, where administrative meetings of the Curia, the peerages, the Crown Council, and (perhaps) some offices take place. Originally, it shared the weekend with a feast, but the most recent one stood alone. The meetings pretty much fill a weekend by themselves, and now they no longer fill our crown events!
  • A new An Tirian law states that officers will serve for a term of two years, with a review and possible rewarrant at the end of the first term. No more than two consecutive terms will be served.
  • I'd like to register my vote AGAINST standardizing policies throughout the known worlde. If you hang over the back fence telling your neighbor how to mow his lawn, not only will he think you're a jerk, he may offer you some helpful criticism in return, and you may end up with a lawnmower up your nose! So if it's not broken, don't fix it. If this were the Middle Ages, we wouldn't expect laws and customs to be the same everywhere! In my view, this idea of standardizing everything has two effects (neither of which I consider good ones): one is to make it easy to move about from kingdom to kingdom without having to suffer through the process of thinking and learning (and incidentally, growing), and the other is to ensure that nothing is ever exceptional. I've found that people usually have a reason for what they do—An Tir is run this way because we LIKE it this way. So…don't tell me how to have a good time—I already AM.


    [This is a response to the discussion in Issue #1 about active marshalling, ethnocentricity, etc.]

    Any fighter who does not accept blows only brings dishonor to him/herself, not the kingdom. The kingdom can choose to recognize a dishonorable fighter by becoming increasingly restrictive about that particular fighter's participation or choose not to elevate the fighter to any fighting rank. It also helps to have someone invest the time to instruct or re-educate a fighter if he/she is not accepting blows.

    —Gwilym Moore de Montfort, An Tir


    Campaigning for peerage is when an individual tries to INFLUENCE decision makers so they are inclined to make that individual a member of a particular peerage. If you're doing what you should be doing when you should be doing it, you will be recognized for your contributions. Campaigning for peerage is repugnant, repulsive, offensive and contrary to all that I feel the dream is about.

    — Gwilym Moore de Montfort, An Tir

    What about "campaigning" for any award or honor in the SCA? I've been writing letters of recommendation in the Society for nearly 15 years, and the one thing I've managed to successfully resist (at least, to this point) is drafting a letter for someone who was out to "earn" an award. Service is what it is. If people cannot derive satisfaction from doing service for the joy of the service itself, I can't get all worked up to recommend them for anything. There are too many people out there in the Society making the process work as a labor of love fro me to waste a lot of time trying to prop us somone's deficient sense of self with awards they feel they've "earned." Idealistic, you say? Unrealistic, you protest? Downright dumb, you chorus? Well, maybe. But I know that, had I received the white belt and chain when I was in the grips of "white belt fever," it would mean a lot less to me today. Getting past the "need for a reward" was a necessary part of the process that led to its bestowal. But, I hear you say out there, without drive, how can one hope to succeed as a squire? As a protege? It took a while, but I eventually had to realize that the drive was a pursuit of personal excellence (one which, incidentally, continues to this day) which embraced items like a belt and chain or medallion not as end goals, but as points of departure for further striving. One of my biggest sorrows as a peer is others of my orders who have taken the attitude that achievement of a peerage means the race is run, and they can quit. If I were King of the Forest, I'd purge these folks in (to use a local euphemism) a Dixie Instant.

    A more difficult case is that of a person whose well-meaning friends spend an inordinate amount of time putting in personal pitches for why Lord Hotstuff or Lady Bigshot is really overdue for the proper recognition. These are generally sincerely-felt convictions being expressed, and (at least in Meridies) these folks are generally not recruited by the target lord or lady in question, but their overenthusiasm can occasionally damage the strongest case.

    — Aedward of Glastonburh, Meridies

    I suppose it depends on whether you mean campaigning for yourself, or campaigning for another person. If you mean the latter, to a certain extent that is what goes on now in circles, and in other discussions of potential cadidates' abilities. Part of the responsi–bilities of a peer is to seek out and encourage qualified candidates for their order, and to bring them to that attention of the Crown. In particular, if a peer has a student (apprentice, protege, squire, etc.), it is part of that peer's responsibility to 'further the career' of that person, which may include 'campaigning' for their advancement to the peerage (both in the SCA and in historical precedent). As long as this is done in an appropriate fashion (i.e. no arm-twisting or back-room deals) it is not a problem.

    On the other hand, if you are referring to campaigning for one's self, that gets a little trickier. To a certain extent, every time an artisan enters an arts competition or exhibit (or makes a gift for the Crown, or whatever), every time a fighter goes to a war or tournament that they don't really want to go to because of who will get to see them fight, they are, in a sense, 'campaigning' for themselves. You notice that I didn't include a Pelican example in that sentence. That is because the Pelican is different from the other two in the following way (among others).

  • If you are a fighter, it is considered a fine and honorable (and even expected) thing to aspire to the Knighthood.
  • If you are an artisan, it is considered a fine and honorable thing to aspire to the Laurel (or at least to that level of workmanship).
  • If you aspire to the pelican (at least openly), it is considered…death to your chances of ever attaining it. I have no objection to people making themselves and their work more visible (to me or anyone else), so long as they don't become obnoxious about waving it in my face. On the other hand, I am not quite ready for people to greet me at the door of an event with a flower and say, "Hi! Remember to vote for me in the Laurel circle tomorrow!"

    — Master Hagar the Black, Outlands

    Me now? Please?
    I, AElflaed, hate it when people campaign for peerage, and I find the following to be symptoms of campaigning:

    • whining, sighing, bursting into tears
    • hinting
    • hanging around peers like a puppy instead of going out and working
    • mentioning peerage unnecessarily (as in "I don't ever expect to be a peer" or "I've never known a peer I didn't like")
    • unnatural traveling (someone who doesn't usually travel suddenly begins attending three out-of-town events per month)
    • challenging every knight on the site, and telling the tales until 3:00 a.m.
    • more costume changes than Cher
    • extreme, abrupt and unnecessary autocrating (such as "Can I be in charge of buying toilet paper? How many bids should I get? Should I send a copy of my report to the Crown? Can I get my name in the newsletter? Can we call it 'Chancellor of the Rolls?'")
    • wearing despised and uncomfortable costumes to impress the laurels
    • taking great pains to compliment the squires or students of influential peers
    Any sudden and unusual changes in behavior should be noted. They could indicate drug use (I saw that on t.v.), having an affair (saw it in a women's magazine) or campaigning for peerage (have seen it in person time and time again).

    Many behaviors involved in "campaign–ing" are things we're proud for peers to do. It's just that when a person is suddenly forcing it, and acting rather than being, it's a sign of insincerity and hypocrisy. The worst thing of all is that it can't be proven to be campaigning unless the peerage is bestowed and then the activity stops. That's what is called "too late."

    Sometimes people who started off campaigning on the advice of their friends or knights or managers discover new friends and interests, and they do continue to travel and work and hobnob with a wide range of people after they become peers. This is good and commendable. They find that the unnatural (to them) behavior they're advised to undertake is really pretty fun and worth continuing.

    —AElflaed of Duckford, Outlands

    In my opinion it is perfectly acceptable for a person to desire to be a peer. I think that striving to attain a higher level of self-achievement is and can be a positive good thing. If a person has a quick temper and realizes that to become a knight he shouldn't have a quick temper, and therefore he changes his attitude and doesn't fly off the handle any more, this is a good thing.

    From my first day in the Society I decided I wanted to be a knight. But for the first two years I only went to local events, got drunk a lot and never went to bardic competitions. Then I realized that if I really wanted to become a knight I would have to branch out, meet new people, learn new things. So I started traveling, going to every major out-of-town event (12th nights and crown and coronet tournies). I got new costumes and went to bardic competitions. I changed my name. In effect I became a real SCA person, not just some Crimson Company cliché.

    After about two years of this behavior I was granted my dream. I was made a Knight of the Realm. Now was what I did campaigning? I suddenly started going to out-of-town events. I suddenly had nice new clothes; I started winning tournaments and my underlying motivation for it all was that I wanted to be a knight. I did however come to love everything I was doing, and I'm still doing it. If what I did was campaigning then I guess it would be hypocritical for me to say campaigning is bad. I understand your point about whining and wearing uncomfortable costumes, but to me, in general, since I did it, campaigning for peerage is not always a bad thing.

    —Duke Artan MacAilin, West (temporarily)

    Mistress Eowyn asks whether awards encourage people to keep doing a good job or to work for more awards. I ask whether it matters. Who can speak of another's motivation? If good work is being done, and if it is enriching the experience for other people, why should it matter whether it is done for sheer love or for recognition?

    — Duchess Melisande de Belvoir, Atlantia


    I have two stories from different kingdoms to roll together to protect the identities of people with poor judgment. Pretend there's someone somewhere whose friends want her to receive an award, and their tactics include threatening the Crown with what might happen if she doesn't get the award, and imagine further that a letter of recommendation goes out to peers suggesting that any who would deny said person the award would have to be basically stupid and/or petty and/or not worth bothering with in the first place. If the person doesn't really deserve the award, it's a simple problem. If the person does deserve it, it will be difficult for the peers to support it and for the Crown to give it without their looking as though they're afraid of the people making the recommendation. Chivalry and honor should touch every facet of our lives, including how we recommend people for awards.

    The broad facts above are real, but are a composite of two stories.



    First off, I must emphatically state that my views IN NO WAY reflect a consensus of opinion of the Circle of Chivalry in Meridies. In fact, my philosophies are viewed with varying degrees of disdain, tolerance, or confusion by most in the circle. With that caveat, then, the Knight-Squire thing from both ends.

    When I asked Orlando Cavalcanti if I could be his squire (hey, I didn't know that's not how it was done…I was young, and A.S. XII was a long time ago), I had not the first intention of ever picking up the sword. I was attracted to the concept of personal service, and wanted to see how the medieval models we had to draw upon would be contemporized. Orlando understood this, and took me as a squire anyway. I avoided the sword for almost six months. Even after I started fighting, I had no real notion of becoming a knight—it just wasn't on the agenda. Over time (years 5-7 as a squire), I developed a case of "white belt fever," and had the commensurate ups and downs associated with that malady. Gradually, I reverted to squire-as-service relationship, and, just shy of my tenth anniversary as a squire, was made a knight in Meridies.

    That subtext has informed my relationships with all five of my squires. Of the five, two fight regularly, one irregularly, and two others, not at all. All of the relationships are characterized by this exploration of personal service and chivalric conduct. I have remained willing to train any and all on the field as fighters to the best of my ability, but in the meantime, the current level of commitment in each specific case suffices. While all five men are my friends, I had slightly different motivations for taking each of them as a squire. In some instances, the opportunity to exchange education was the attraction. In others, there was the desire to reward a willingness to serve, and some really wanted to swing the stick.

    It has been put to me that this less-than-rigorous set of guidelines might inveigh against one of my squires in the event that they should be brought before the circle for discussion. I must honestly answer that I don't know if that would be so. All I know is that this unique set of relationships seems to work for all parties involved, and I'm glad we've had the latitude to pursue them as we see fit.

    — Sir Aedward of Glastonburh, Meridies (also a Master of the Pelican)

    As I'm not even remotely martial I probably shouldn't stick in my oar, but being an inveterate busybody, I thought I'd make a few (rude) comments.

    In nearly 20 years of observing such things, so often what I've witnessed is somebody called Sir-------- taking a squire and acquiring the body servant that the SCA doesn't otherwise provide; the squire acquiring someone on the "old boys network" who can promote them (IF they behave); the relationship acquiring an aura that excludes anyone so unfortunate as to not be part of the club; and the Society acquire a couple of bozos who are so tied up in their knight/squire relationship that they are useless for anything else (squires WILL do the dishes…if their knight orders them to). [Knights WILL do the dishes…if their King tells them to…and they like that King.]

    Am I missing something? Being overharsh? Not susceptible to normal male bonding?
    Ah well.

    — Bish (East Kingdom)

    I have seen all manner of Knight-Squire relationships (as well as other Peer-Student pairings) in the various places that I have lived. These have ranged from a casual acquaintance in which the two occasionally attend the same fighter practice, to relationships in which the squire becomes a virtual slave to the knight, and everything in between. Is there a single 'right' way these relationships should work? No, not in general; it is a relationship to be defined by the two people involved, and even though I might not like seeing a squire treated like a man-servant (or worse) by his knight, it is something that is between the two of them—as long as both of them understand and agree to the terms of the arrangement!! I have seen far too many eager young fighters join up and squire to a knight right away because someone tells them that that's what they need to do to become a fighter, even though they may not know much of anything about either the knight in question, or about what that knight expects of a squire. Then they discover that the knight treats them like dirt, or that they are incompatible for some other reason, but they feel that they can't get out of the relationship (usually because the knight made them swear some sort of fealty). They spend at least the early years of their SCA lives miserable, or more often, they just quit. There is no excuse for this — both parties, particularly the student, should clearly understand and agree to the nature of the relationship before they enter into it! And Knights aren't the only Peers I've seen do this…

    — Master Hagar the Black, Outlands

    Interestingly, few of the comments on knight/squire relation–ships are coming from knights or squires so far. The original story (issue #1) which was purposefully vague involved someone overhearing squires at Pennsic talk Cinderella-like of not being able to go and fight because they had to polish armor and take care of camp. This was foreign to the experience of the witness, who came from the Outlands where squires tend to be close friends of their mentors, rather than their servants, and where knights tend to try to make sure their squires get as much fighting in as possible.

    In my own household, I have assisted in the "training" (although it never seemed like that) of one student who became a master of arms (Master Bulkar der Ostermachen, now deceased), a young squire who had to move away, a squire who became a knight (Sir Lavan Longwalker) and a current squire whose behavior and activities are a source of pride to us. That's not many for the amount of time Master Gunwaldt has been a peer, but we're not in a hurry and we both put a great deal of energy into teaching in general.

    Anyway, Gunwaldt has always held that the way to represent the medieval model of service in exchange for training and room and board is for him to pay the squire's site fees, to transport him with us without charging for gas (if he chose to travel with us to an event), to pay for his membership, or to gift him with costumes, feast gear, or other accoutrements of everyday life. In this way the squire is working in exchange for "payment," and not just in hopes of being rewarded with a peerage, which Gunwaldt can't give him anyway. The service the squire gives Gunwaldt should be rewarded by Gunwaldt. A knighthood comes from the kingdom, and should be recognition of something other than service to an individual or a household. The "training" is a given; it's cheap; nothing's being taught the squire which we wouldn't be willing to teach others.

    We haven't found many others who feel this way about the relationship.

    — AElflaed of Duckford, Outlands

    I am not a fighter, and hence not squired to any knight, but I am apprenticed to Mistress Gwyneth Espicier (in the art of music performance) and I have two cents to throw in on the peer-associate relationship…. The peer-associate relationship is built on friendship and is stronger than friendship. My relationships with my friends differ based on the personalities involved, and Mistress Gwyneth's relationships with her apprentices are likewise varied….

    I will note that the amount of respect due a peer differs greatly from kingdom to kingdom (Mistress Matilda of Taye has a distressing story about her first event after she moved from Calontir to Atlantia, and about how some gentles there actually apologized for talking with her without leave, ignorant as they had been of her peerage). That may have a great effect on peers and associates.

    — Christian d'Hiver, Calontir

    AElflaed of Duckford

    Is it a regional problem that some people are scared of peers? I live in al-Barran (Albuquerque), a barony which has (this month) 15 royal peers, and 36 members of orders of peerage (some of the above are counted in both groups) out of about 150 active people. It seems that locally there's lots of intermixing and that nearly all newbies have old-time peers as friends. I've heard people from other areas who move here express surprise that it's easy to get to know peers, or that we weren't as scary as peers where they lived before. Is this their imagination? Are there actually places where newcomers are told to avoid peers or to speak to them only when spoken to? Are we just so numerous here that we can't be avoided?

    Someone formerly of the Outlands just came to Grand Outlandish from An Tir, her current home, and I picked her up from the airport. "What's the big difference?" I asked. "They're much more formal there." "Like what?" and she couldn't really describe it. Is there anyone out there who can?

    Two fairly new gentlemen of our close acquaintance said to me and Master (a.k.a. Jarl) Gunwaldt after they'd been in a year "You don't seem like peers." I laughed and said "Oh no—what do you mean?" (Fear of "dress better," "sit up straighter" struck me.) They said we were really friendly and normal. I didn't understand that, because at that time they were already better acquainted with a duke, a duchess and the king and queen than they were with us.

    Are peers like cafeteria food? "Cafeteria food is bad" is a "truism" spoken even when the cafeteria food is fantastic. Are peers snooty whether they are or not? Is each individual peer considered unapproachable unless proven otherwise?

    I think there is some mystical part of the "becoming" process today in the SCA which quietly indoctrinates people to believe that Peers "ain't like normal folk." Even with friends I've known for years, I find this occasional reversion to the "but I can't talk to them…. they're Peers." When I point out that they can talk to me, and I'm a peer, they say, "Yeah but that's different." I can't for the life of me get them to tell me how it's different.

    My personal speculation is that it's easier to find fault with a group of folks if you find a way to depersonalize them, and the depersonalization of peers makes it easier for things to be "their fault" when things go wrong. Of course, the imperious, high-and-mighty attitudes of a small handful of peers only feeds the illusion that there is an inaccessible group of demigods who tread the giddy heights in the SCA. Inaccessible peers is two parts SCA myth and one part folks who (unfortunately) through their conduct perpetuate the myth.

    — Aedward of Glastonburh, Meridies

    Duchess Melisande de Belvoir

    I would like to send out a call for comment on what we can and should do for the children in the SCA. Mostly, I am interested in what accommodations, if any, should be made for families with small children, say between 3 and 12 years old. Is it reasonable to expect reduced prices for feasts for them? Is it a good idea to have special feast areas for them, as I've seen suggested in some event announcements? What about the timing of feasts—should they be scheduled earlier than has been the custom to allow the smalls to participate? Is it appropriate to ban small children from events? Lest any doubt my intent, let it be said that I am the mother of a little boy who is almost 6. I am appalled when I am expected to pay full price for the 3 or 4 mouthfuls he is likely to eat, and I also find it inappropriate to be told not to bring him to events. In addition, I think it is outrageous to ask adults to wait until 8 or 8:30 for dinner, especially since so many forget to eat during the day at events; for small children, setting dinner so late borders on the cruel. I think the presence of children in our recreation of the middle ages can only enrich their lives and ours, as we learn once again the wonder of it all through their eyes. How do others, both parents and non-parents, feel?
    William the Lucky

    Comments by Sir William the Lucky appear under "Kingdom Differences" and "Ethnocentricity." I'm including all the biographical information he's sent because I found it so interesting. Some of the initials may need translation by a herald near you.

    Titles and awards: KSCA, OL, OP, GA, OLM, ORL, AA, Baron, Viscount, Count, QOG, HBR.

    "Mostly I use Sir, that title I've had longest. It is easiest to remember that someone means me when I hear it." William has been king of the West three times but turned down being a duke "for reasons which will doubtless make a paper for this newsletter someday." (I've already written and asked him to write it!) He says having been king three times is "a less than sparkling success record (<6%) considering that I've fought in roughly 55 Crown Lists."

    Currently Chancellor of the West Kingdom College of Scribes, William has been at various times Seneschal of the West, Steward of the Society, Marshal of the Society, and Banner Herald of the West. William has "traveled to every Kingdom except (so far) Calontir—an omission I hope to correct before too many more years go by. Spent lots of time in An Tir and Caid before they became Kingdoms, and enough in Oertha and Lochac over the last few years that I think I have mostly gotten past the 'company manners' with at least some of the people there."

    Mundane good stuff is that he's a Computer Performance Consultant for a large HMO, and holds the following degrees from the University of California at Berkeley: BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, and BA and MA in Anthropology.

    If people from Calontir would like to recommend best events for a visitor, write to William Jouris, 1248 McEwing Ct., Concord CA 94521.

    Mistress AElflaed of Duckford

    An interesting discussion has come up in my life lately, and that concerns the acceptability of people having (by whatever means) peerage regalia/symbols before they are peers. Around here, this seems such a common practice among what I consider "the younger guys" (who are in their mid-to-late 20's and have been in since they were teenagers, and who are peers) that they see nothing unusual about it. "It" ranges from a person being given a chain by a knight he likes, to having a full set of "stuff" (belt, chain, spurs) hanging on the wall for someday.

    Is this no different than a hope chest? Is it like people give a young girl gifts of household goods for her to keep until marriage? I think the reason I'm offended is that it seems more like the ring—like something the bride shouldn't have in her possession until the wedding.

    The ceremonies by which peers are elevated have other real-world relatives. Ceremonies which bring about a transformation in the eyes of a society often involve significant objects, and the transfer of that object to the person being transformed is the moment of power in the ritual. At that moment you have something you didn't have before, and the possession of the thing is the outward sign of your social transformation. I'm thinking of the awarding of a diploma or a degree, and of marriage. The moment a person graduates from student status to "completion" is the moment the diploma leaves the hand of the school official. It no longer belongs to the school, and neither does the graduate. The moment a ring is placed on a bride she becomes a wife. One second before, she wasn't. Ring on, she is.

    Some of you are thinking now that it's really the school transcript and completion of requirements that are important. A marriage can be performed without a ring—it's the proper filing of the license and certificate signed by an authorized agent of the state that makes you really married. I'm not talking about what's legal, though. I'm talking about what's magical, what's ceremonial, what forms a rite of passage.

    Someone gives a squire a chain and says "Keep this for someday. I have a lot of respect for you and would just like for you to have this chain which is important to me." I'm not a knight. It just seems to me that there are other ways to say "I think you'll be a knight someday" or "I'm glad to know you." I have friends I feel will be laurels or pelicans one day. They're new, they're enthusiastic, and they're talented. What if I were to give one my own laurel medallion, right now, and say "Keep this for someday"? Would this offend any of you? That's all the "stuff" laurels get here. That's not nearly comparable to belt, chain and spurs. Maybe if I also made and gave a scroll, with arms and everything, with the name in gold, everything ready to go except the date and the names of the king and queen—would that be too much?

    Every person involved in the several stories I know about this is a friend of mine. I like them, I like the people they've given things to, and still I'm offended. The tradition as I know it, as I'm comfortable with it, is this: If a laurel who would really like to be at a scheduled ceremony but can't wants to give his own medallion to a candidate, he gives it to the king or another member of the order to hold in secret until the day of the ceremony, at which time it passes from the hand of the king to the candidate. It is the magical thing which visibly transforms lord X into Master X. (In our kingdom the king often, not always, passes the medallion or chain to the circle, each peer holds it a second or two and passes it on, so it literally comes from the king through the hands of the circle.) When it's first held up it can be announced that the medallion is a gift of Master X, and it previously belonged to whoever. The candidate can be surprised and happy and never touch it until it's really and truly his and it's put on by the king or queen. It's like a ring; now he's wedded to this order or this kingdom, or however one might choose to look at it. (If there is no scheduled ceremony, I don't think any medallions should be leaving the hands of any laurels.)

    At this point I'm guessing that half the readers are agreeing with me and the other half think I'm excited over nothing. Parents of people my age (I was born in 1953, so find your spot in the upcoming story) were adamant that if we lived together before marriage we would destroy ourselves and our chances for a good life, and would make a sham of any "weddings" which took place. I know very few couples my age who didn't live together before they got married. It might have ruined my mom's life if she had done it in 1947, but it didn't ruin mine. We did have to leave home, though, and be sneaky, and lose the benefit of approval of grandparents, etc. I know of unmarried couples ten years younger than I am who live together in the same house with their parent(s). (Three couples come to mind without hard thought.) Things change.

    I'd like the advice of the readers. Should I just get with modern life or should I try to convince people to treat the special trappings of peerage with more significance? I realize fully that this may just be a local aberration invented and sustained by a small, crazed sub-group. There could also be entire kingdoms where owning peerage symbols before marriage (I mean before peerage) has been common practice for generations. I just don't know. I'd like to know. That's why I'm asking you.

    by Duke Artan MacAilin

    In my opinion, the symbols of peerage are just that—symbols. If a newcomer were to wear a gold chain it wouldn't make him a knight. If a master of arms were to wear a gold chain it wouldn't make him a knight either. AElflaed, you said the [laurel medallion] "is the magical thing which visibly transforms Lord X into Master X" (after it passes from the hand of the king to the candidate). I disagree with this. To me the placing of the medallion by the king is just the king recognizing the fact that the person is now a laurel. The Magical Part is when the king says "We accept you into Our Order of the Laurel…arise Master Whoever," or whatever the king says. It is the words that make the person a peer, not the symbol. Not the medallion. What if in the course of the ceremony the medallion was accidentally switched and a Pelican medallion was placed on a laurel candidate. Does that make him a pelican? No way.

    So I guess that is the difference between our two ways of thinking. I didn't understand at first what you were offended by, but now I think I do. If you feel that the laurel medallion or the belt and spurs are what makes the person that type of peer then I can see where you would think it presumptuous to give someone peerage regalia. I don't and never have seen it that way. I don't think most people do either.

    Take the bit about the wedding ring, that you are married after you put it on and not before. I never thought that at all. People are married after the minister or judge says, "I now pronounce you man and wife." That is why he says it. That is the rite of passage. With regard to a diploma or a graduation, that is more complicated because every school is different. Here at Cal-Poly they mail you your diploma, so do you graduate at graduation or when it comes in the mail?

    In our ceremonies there is always a part where the king says you are now a peer. Not in those words, but that is the magical time—the "before and after" time.

    In a knighting ceremony it takes two separate and distinct but necessary things. The first is the dubbing by another knight. To me this makes the person a knight in a medieval sense the same way that William Marshall or any medieval knght was a knight and the second thing is the king saying that the person is now in the Order of Chivalry. This distinction in medieval times was distinct as well. Any knight could knight anyone, but only the king of England could admit someone to the Order of the Garter. So I see our order of knighthood in the Society as the Order of the Garter of medieval times. And only the words of the king can admit someone into the order. You don't need to be a knight to be in the Order of Chivalry (i.e. masters of arms) and in my opinion you can be a knight (in a medieval sense) and not be in the Order of Chivalry. But to be a Knight of the Society it takes both things.

    So that is why I am not offended by people having peerage regalia. Until those specific criteria are met, the symbols don't mean anything.

    AElflaed of Duckford

    Viscountess Katlin (Atenveldt's Mistress of Arts and Sciences) called me the day after she received ThinkWell and was most interested in the question from The Book of SCA Questions about arts: "How can the position of arts in the SCA be enhanced?"

    My own answer to Eowyn was:

    "By education and constant propaganda to remove the desire to 'enhance' it. By recognizing its importance in situ, the expressed desire of a crazed minority to have it taken out and put in a museum might be quelled. If speeches made when awards were given emphasized how much costumes add to a tournament, how important nice armor is for a knight, how beautiful music can take a ho-hum feast and turn it into a transcendental experience—if those kinds of statements were made two or three times at every event people would start to get the idea that arts should be respected as living parts of our everyday lives, not as 'time-out, let's do arts today' dead displays on folding tables.

    "What sort of medieval experience is being re-created when we lay costumes out on tables? I've asked this at and of many arts competitions, and the people nervously ignore me, or pretend they're incapable of critical thought. When would medieval folk have set out soaps and yarns and drink they'd made? At a fair. Let's have a fair then! Let's show and sell the stuff, and judge it on the sly while all that's going on. People just ignore me, because they like 3x5" cards with typewritten, mundane documentation. Then I say, "Why are we wearing costumes to do this, when it's not the re-creation of the period activity?" and they want me to stop trying to get them to think.

    That was more strongly worded than it might have been if I'd planned in advance to publish it, but it's my raw reaction. I feel as though an arts competition makes one person happy (sometimes, not always) and many people unhappy. No matter what criteria are used for categories and entries, there are always people justifiably irritated. I don't think it can be made fair and equitable, and so I don't think it should be a goal to be maintained. I much prefer arts events (if there must be arts events) at which classes and workshops, rather than competitions, are the purpose of the gathering.

    In the past several years there have been people more and more often saying "Every event should/must have arts." First of all I think it's a silly statement. Every event does have arts, as long as there are costumes and armor. Any time people make an attempt at eating something other than hot dogs and potato chips they're using their knowledge of what's period. Scrolls are presented at court, by kings on thrones under banners. That's art. The main reason the statement that we shouldn't have an event without "arts" bugs me, though, is that I don't like the reverse of it—that there shouldn't be an event without fighting. If at an arts event there is to be a series of sword classes or special practices, that's fine. Fighting is an art and a science. When people just say "if we don't have a tournament no one will come," I feel like saying, "Fine. We can do without the people who won't come if there's no tournament." I've seen tournaments stuck onto arts events and the effect was often that there were fighters, heralds, marshals, lists officers, water bearers and observers outside at the tournament who would otherwise have been inside taking classes.

    There are a few laurels in this and a neighboring kingdom or two (is that vague enough?) who are disgusted at the idea of having a tournament at an arts fair, but who press for having "arts points" at wars without seeing the irony and hypocrisy involved. Let wars be wars. Don't make people with no interest in combat-related activities feel guilty about not going to Estrella (or any other war with arts points clumsily grafted on).

    I've been accused of not being supportive of the arts because I advocated combining the arts and sciences offices, because I don't think war points for arts are appropriate, because I don't love arts competitions, and because I won't recite or agree with the alleged "fact" that the order of chivalry gets more respect than the laurels or pelicans. I do not believe that knights are more highly respected than the other orders of peerage, nor that their ceremonies are any great shakes, only that we all, since before we could talk, have been exposed to tales, legends and history which talked about knights and squires and never mentioned laurels or pelicans. We have a deeply ingrained vision of knighthood, and only a cartoony SCA vision of the other two orders. Fine. We can't change that. I believe that newcomers to the Society know who the knights are and get excited about that before they figure out that the orders of the Laurel and the Pelican are of equal rank. I feel positive that people who stay in the SCA any length of time and who are of at least average intelligence develop more respect for laurels and pelicans, in general, than they have for the chivalry as a group because of the realities of the relative difficulty of becoming a member of one of those orders. (As people become more aware, though, they also begin to see the peers as individuals, rather than averaging out all they know about the whole order. Thinking that knighthood is relatively easy to attain won't prevent them seeing a particular knight as the finest peer they've ever known, and if they feel it's difficult to get a laurel, it won't prevent them thinking a particular laurel has no business being a peer. Ultimately each peer is judged alone, and judged over, and over, and over.)

    I separate the issue of encouraging the arts from the non-issue of the prestige of being a laurel. If there are people out there who have had the experience that it is much harder to become a knight in a certain area than it is to become a laurel or a pelican, please, please write and tell us.

    Well, hey, I'm married to a Laurel, and she could do without contests too. Me, I don't care one way or another, as long as contests do not serve to discourage pursuit of things artistic/ scientific/ scholarly. The side observation that Laurel and Pelican are of equal stature with Knighthood is of course true de jure, but I wonder if it is true de facto in the minds of the larger collective consciousness. I have found in my limited travels that to be a Knight seems to mean more than to be a Laurel or a Pelican. Certainly the fact that there are ceremonial distinctions made amongst the orders does nothing to lessen this perception. I wonder if this perception is seen elsewhere in the SCA? As for which is "harder to become," the only real measure I have for this is the numbers in each of the respective peerages in Meridies: 40+ Knights, thirtysomething Laurels, and less than 20 Pelicans.

    — Aedward of Glastonburh, Meridies
    who was a Pelican and then a knight

    One way to enhance the position of the arts in the SCA is to make them more visible, and thus more prominent. There are any number of tools than can be used to do this: exhibitions, collegiums (collegia?), competitions (yes, AElflaed, even competitions!), etc. But these are just tools, they are not ends unto themselves. The real way to enhance the position of the arts (or anything else, for that matter) is to make it fashionable. This flies somewhat in the face of the "Art of art's sake" philosophy, but…you asked!

    — Master Hagar the Black, Outlands


    To begin with, I would like to expose the best kept secret in the SCA. There are probably some of you out there who would like to burn me at the stake as a heretic for what I am about to say, but you will have to catch me first. Here is is: the best kept secret in the SCA is: THE ARTS AND SCIENCES DOMINATE THE SCA AND INFLUENCE EVERYTHING WE DO. In fact, the fighters in the SCA are in such a minority and are so overlooked, that they have to go to extreme measures to be noticed at all. Their means are Crown and Coronet lists, Kings and Princes. You don't think this is true? Think about this: everyone, no matter who they are, has to have a costume to even attend one of our events. We consider costuming an art. Not everyone has to fight, but everyone has to have a costume. The costume may not be real good, but art doesn't have to be good either to be art. Whether they made it themselves, bought it or had someone make it for them, they support and acknowledge the arts.

    Further, if a person takes up fighting, they have to have armor. We also consider armoring an art. The armor may not be real good armor, but it is still an art. The SCA has grown to such a size now that if your skills aren't up to good armor, you can buy it. Why buy good armor if ugly stuff will do the trick? Because we are all supposed to be rich medieval nobles and it is important to look the part to the best of our ability. Also there is a lot of social pressure, if not direct requests (I have made them myself) to get people to wear and use good-looking costumes and equipment at SCA events. In other words, people are requested, by subtle and not-so-subtle means to upgrade their artistic involvement. How about the consideration that fighting is a martial art? I have just started fighting myself and it is a lot harder than I thought. The best analogy that I can come up with from my art experiences is that it is like musical improvisation. My goodness, isn't musical improvisation an art? (Musical improv is hard too and it takes a lot of time and practice to do it well, just like fighting.)

    Arts in the SCA are ubiquitous. Arts are everywhere you look and everyone is involved to some degree or another. Usually when I hear this question of enhancing the arts in the SCA it is voiced as a complaint that fighters ignore artists, that artists are treated as second class citizens and that fighters are just dumb stick jocks with all the sensitivity of a rock. I find this a very unchivalrous attitude. Artists who voice this complaint want fighters to appreciate their art, but they are seldom willing to appreciate the fighters art. Granted, not everyone can fight and isn't it nice that everyone doesn't have to. However, God and all His/Her little angels can't help or protect the person who won't at least acknowledge the arts by wearing a costume. Who said that everyone must recognize and appreciate what everyone else is doing? We don't seem to give anyone any trouble if they want to specialize in, say, calligraphy to the exclusion of other arts, but just let someone specialize in fighting arts and there is no end to the howling and moaning of how this beast of a fighter is ignoring "the arts."

    The stories of how some Laurel (some tend to think they are guardians of artistic purity in the SCA) came down on someone for some artistic infraction in costuming, armoring, or the art of your choice, are legion. Most of us find this kind of behaviour objectionable, and it seldom nets the perpetrator their goal. The SCA has tried to develop other methods to convince, motivate, and persuade people to improve their artwork. Some of these methods are workshops, collegiums, arts competitions, apprenticeships and awards (you know, those little sparklies that fighter-Kings give out to recognize art achievement). Most of these activities are lots of fun and people really do enjoy learning something new when it is offered in a way that doesn't make them feel bad about not wanting to. You know, flies, honey and vinegar. Most of these activities involve teaching, so let's look at the kind of influence that teachers have in the SCA.

    If you didn't already have the skill when you joined the SCA and you decided that someone else was doing something really neat and that you wanted to learn how, you probably went to someone in the SCA who could teach you. The SCA really encourages the sharing of knowledge in this fashion, so you are in luck. Your teacher would teach you the way they want you to do things long before you develop your own style, and even after, you may still do things the way your teacher did. It is this ability of the artist to train and influence others that has made the SCA what it is today, not just fighting. But then, fighting is an art, so the whole of the SCA's growth and substance has, from the very first day, been directly influenced by artists. The Society is full of artists who wanted to develop a setting where their art, whatever it was, could grow and prosper, and have done it. The SCA as it is today is a living monument to that effort.

    There is also the less obvious influence that SCA trendsetters have on newcomers. It takes only a few years in the SCA to notice that when some popular person is in a visible position, newcomers want to emulate them and have SCA gear just as nice as their idol's. I have seen this happen in at least two instances; the first one was for transition armor and the second was for Tudor-style costuming. The people who were doing the emulating were going (and still are) to a great deal of trouble to improve their skills so that their gear would match their idols'.  Let's not forget the skilled fighter who attracts less-skilled fighters who want to improve their fighting skills by fighting with him/her. This influence is from one artist to the next, inspiration to improve and enhance the SCA with beautiful things.

    I am acquainted with a Laurel who specializes in calligraphy and illumination. As I got to know this Master better, I found out that he had majored in performance art in college. This seemed to be a very esoteric subject and before I thought about it, I asked him how it was that a person trained in performance art found his way to the SCA. As soon as I said this I realized my mistake and he confirmed it by laughing at me. What is the SCA if it isn't performance art? This makes everyone, fighter, artist, newcomer, oldtimer, a performance artist at least.

    Let's think about awards for a minute. In the SCA, there are two peerages given for non-fighting activity, Laurel and Pelican. For fighting, there is only one and that fighter has to demonstrate skills in non-fighting arts, dancing, heraldry, chess, and general courtesy. Pelicans and Laurels don't have to fight. Most Kingdoms have more non-fighting awards than fighting awards, and yet non-fighters are clamoring for more. They even want to determine wars with points won in an arts competition so that they can prove to fighters that they are just as good as they are. I guess I am missing something here. Aren't wars won by warriors? And aren't warriors martial ARTISTS? So aren't SCA wars won by artists? How can an artist who specializes in one art be inferior to another artist who specializes in a completely different art?

    I don't think the problem of how to enhance the arts in the SCA really exists. Rather, I think the problem is more one of not seeing the forest for the trees. Our current system of acknowledging any kind of achievement in the SCA is with awards. There are a lot of attendant problems with this system, but its one great failing is that it is a one-shot deal. People tend to think that effort ends after they get the coveted award rather than looking at it as a stepping stone to greater and better things. It is all very nice for the members of the order to recommend to the King that you should have a particular award, and it is nice to receive it at a court and bask in the public acclaim, but what happens after that? What happens when you have received all the awards there are to get? What is it that will keep you feeling like your artistic accomplishments are of worth to the SCA? Perhaps this is the deeper problem that is not voiced when the discussion of enhancing arts in the SCA comes up. How do you reward the person who has every award you can give in a setting where the arts are so ubiquitous and expected of everyone?

    Any artist (fighting or non) that is worth his or her salt keeps progressing in their art. They learn more, their skills become more refined, and their work becomes better and better, But how to get that really sustaining pat on the back that seems to make it all worth while is a problem that is not solved by more awards. I suspect the solutions are as individual as the artists acutely aware of the problem, so I feel that we should be asking of artists (fighting and non) what it is that they feel is a real, personal, sustaining reward for their efforts in the SCA and try to set up activities that enhance that feeling.

    Teaching is a time-honored method of personal reward. I was talking with a certain Duke, who has been king many times and is not noted for his non-fighting artistic skills, about what it was that kept him in the SCA since he had just said he had done everything in the SCA that he had wanted to do. He answered that training other fighters and watching them use the skills he had taught them to win tourneys really was satisfying to him and really warmed his heart. It seems to me that this kind of reward is far more lasting and sustaining than any award the king could give him. Perhaps we need to set up workshops and collegiums where the teacher (usually a skilled artist of some kind) can watch the growth and progress of their students over a longer period of time. Apprenticeships work well this way, too. Of course, not everyone is a teacher or finds training the unskilled rewarding, so this will work for only some.

    In conversations with others about what is really rewarding to them, it has sometimes been said that input from skilled to the unskilled, especially from someone they admired, was really rewarding. To that end, a really inspired solution has been the Laurel's Prize Tourney. Where else can you sit down and really discuss the joys and sorrows of being an artist with another artist? The two Laurel's Prize tourneys I have attended so far have been extremely rewarding for all concerned. First, people got to show their work in a non-threatening, non-competitive setting and they could modestly fish for compliments and not feel guilty or it. Second, they could sit down face to face with other artists who are sometimes, but not always, judged to be their superiors and discuss the fine points of style and technique. Since everyone is face to face, manners and polite speech is encouraged in a way that it is not with written comments on judging sheets. Finally, more skilled artists got to see the works of up-and-coming artists and to influence and encourage them with their comments. It is also fun to give out presents to others for no other reason than you just happened to like their work. Whether or not you got a present from the reviewing Laurels, you certainly got a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from other like-minded folk. One of the rules of gift-giving, even if it is only a verbal gift, is that it will return tenfold eventually. Share and share alike, everyone could give and everyone receive, a win-win situation.

    I feel that more of this kind of activity would be generally rewarding for more people than would the making up of new awards that would benefit only a few. Show-and-tell get-togethers like this could be set up as often as you wanted and on as large or small a scale as you like. Currently, only static and sometimes performing artists have had a shot at this kind of activity and I would like to see the martial artists try something like it as well. Perhaps we can simply hold SCA arts fairs and invite everyone to show off their art, whatever it is, and then have everyone review everyone else's stuff and then have great fun giving handmade presents to favorite artists. Talk about warm fuzzies all the way around.

    There is no doubt in my mind that everyone in the SCA is an artist to some degree or another. I feel that sometimes this idea is forgotten and neglected. There are some artists out there who seem to truly feel the only way to enhance SCA non-fighting art is at the expense of fighting art. On the contrary, the only way to enhance art in the SCA is to enhance all of the arts. Let's agree that everyone else is an artist, even if we don't participate in their art form, and set up activities and situations that help everyone develop their chosen art to the best of their abilities. It will take everyone's help to do this, so we can all feel we are contributing to enhancing SCA art, and coincidentally we will all reward each other on a continuing basis and make the SCA a better game for everyone.

    — Viscountess Yelisveta Katlin Savrasova,
    Mistress of the Pelican and of the Laurel
    A&S Minister for Atenveldt

    (a polite dispute between AElflaed & Cariadoc)

    Duke Cariadoc and I are having an exchange of letters over a difference of opinion on the importance of SCA member or, more specifically, whether there is a moral obligation to be a member. I'll try to convey each of our positions through quotes from these exchanges or from our respective books (A Miscellany and Bright Ideas…), and then would appreciate the input of others. This is not to divide the world into opposing camps, but to help us understand why others believe as they do.

    From Bright Ideas and True Confessions—How and What to Do and Why (by AElflaed): "In the Outlands and at least one other kingdom, kingdom law states that only SCA members can receive awards. The corporation does not require membership for awards, but people who are in any degree serious about the Society should be members. Encourage newcomers to join. When you're recommending people for awards, check to see whether they're members. (Membership listings are available from the stock clerk, and the kingdom seneschal usually has a current one.) If your kingdom doesn't have this requirement, you might still consider it yourself, when you make a recommendation. If awards are given for service and dedication, for virtue and character, then it seems important to consider what could motivate a person to fail or refuse to maintain membership."

    Duke Cariadoc bought a copy of this book at TFYC and wrote a very nice letter, with this criticism:
    "Points of Disagreement… Your attitude towards membership—in particular the suggestion that, before recommending someone for an award, you might want to check whether he was a member. That is the worst thing in the book. You will find my views on the subject in the Miscellany."

    From "No Audience" (page 129 of the 5th Edition of A Miscelleny ): "The people who bear the load, who make the Society work, are the people who create the events, write the poems, tell the stories, sing the songs, sew the clothing. If you have just spent two hours deboning chickens then you are bearing your share of the load. If you are a card carrying member of the SCA Incorporated and come to every event expecting to be entertained, you are part of the load being borne."

    A few pages later there is a long letter Cariadoc wrote to the board in Summer 1982. This is worth reading if you're interested, but too long and complex to quote much of here. It was a response to a letter the board had received suggesting that membership be required even to head a household or to sit in a peers' circle to advise the Crown. One small part of Cariadoc's response is: "Thus [the writer of the first letter] writes, and you apparently agree, that 'when a person takes an active part in his or her branch, the person owes it to all the other members to commit to the group at least to the extent of an associate membership.' As you and [the writer] know, there are people in the Society, probably a fair number of them, whose annual expenditures on the Society, in time and money, come to well over a thousand dollars. What you are saying, in effect, is that such people, if they do not choose to be members, are making less of a commitment (and presumably less of a contribution) than those who spend one percent as much—provided that that one percent is a payment to you for membership in the corporation…. If the board were elective it would be appropriate to deny them a vote. But they have still contributed to the Society, and it is only the confusion of the two that makes it possible for [the writer] to write what she has written, and for you to agree." Much of that letter explained Cariadoc's view of the Society and of SCA Inc. as very separate entities.

    In my response I said, "I thought the letter to which you were responding was too extreme, and I too joined in the days when 'joining' meant coming to events in costume. I sent in a membership, though, and have never lapsed. [Then I went into discussion of fringe groups who only fight and party and don't encourage membership but still want their opinions heard.] I can't imagine an argument which would be acceptable to me morally for a person not being a paid member—receiving the newsletter. Anyone who can't afford $20 can't afford good armor or a costume, or site fees, or a tent, or the gasoline to travel. If a person really were poor but a good scrounger of materials, and as active and useful as your hypothetical people, I would convince the local group to give him a gift membership as reward for his service.

    If [a non-member] spent five hours cooking and three hours cleaning up and was patient with newcomers, he would be a good candidate for receiving a carved box, or a costume, or a scroll of appreciation. Those are things which match the service, but I think giving someone SCA rank should match a commitment on their part to be an active member of the Society.

    I can see (if I squint) your differentiation between the SCA Inc. and the Society, but I myself see them as same and different as Sandra and AElflaed. One is the mundane self and the other is the persona—the pretty side."

    Cariadoc wrote: "From my standpoint, the difference has nothing to do with the difference between the Mundane and the Persona side of things. The Society exists mundanely as well—David is a member of it, and would be even if his membership in the Corporation expired. The Rialto, for example—the SCA interest group on UseNet—is part of the Society, although it has no connection with the Corporation. The Corporation could exist in persona—we could go back to calling the Board the Imperial Electors—and it would still be a different thing from the Society…. Given that distinction, I fail to understand your moral attitude towards membership. As an economist, I do not think 'can't afford' is a useful category. The relevant question is whether one should spend $20 on a membership or on something else. The possible arguments for getting a membership are that it gets you T.I. and the newsletters and that it provides some money to the central organization. The latter argument cuts in both directions, however, since, as a believer in decentralization and the difficulty of maintaining it, I am far from sure that giving the central organization more money is a good thing. In any case, if I wanted to give [them] more money I could send them a donation without being a member.

    Your view seems to be that membership is a moral obligation, but I cannot see why. It is not necessary as a way of declaring that I am a part of the Society—I do that by showing up at events in garb, speaking in persona, etc…. [In reference to the business in my letter about giving a non-member a gift instead of an award:] You seem to think that rank is clearly a bigger thing than presents. I would like to believe that the arm rings I give at Pennsic are worth at least as much to the recipients as an AoA, and more than a Baronial arts award. They are certainly rarer and harder to get.

    But why do you measure a commitment to be an active member of the Society by whether someone has mailed $20 to the SCA Inc.? Thousands of people have done that who are not actively committed, and other thousands have been actively committed long before they became members. It is true that most people who are an active part of the Society will eventually want to become members, because T.I. and the newsletters are useful to them. But that is effect, not cause, or commitment.

    And yes, I would recommend ignoring membership in awarding a peerage."

    Some of you would be interested in reading the entire exchange, and some of you may think this is too much already. Would you like to contribute to it? I still feel that in giving awards we should ignore both inactive members and active non-members, and go for the active members. Are there readers who are intimately involved, as in people who received awards without being members, and have a personal opinion based on that? Input, please.

    (by Eowyn Amberdrake et al.):

    In what ways has the SCA affected your mundane life for the better?
    For the worse?

    I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

    ThinkWell Trivia
    As of finishing Issue #2, I have 24 subscribers, with at least one subscriber from each of the twelve kingdoms. I'm expecting more!

    I'd like to thank all of you who have subscribed and who have written. If some part of your letter isn't in #2, it will probably be in #3.

    (so far so good)
    I won't publish things unless I have the author's SCA name, real name, and address.

    length—no such thing as too short. Don't know yet what's too long.

    content—make it productive, positive, don't name names in a negative context

    deadline—before I print again. Send what you have when you're finished

    format—legibly on paper (or Microsoft Word on a 3.5" diskette my Macintosh can read)

    cartoons—same as above. Don't use recognizable people in a negative way.

    Anything I think might get you or me into trouble will not be published (but I might send it back to be toned down, or print excerpts or a paraphrase).

    Please include some information about yourself, such as peerages or other titles, kingdoms in which you've lived—whatever you think the readers would find useful and interesting. Mundane job and education are optional, and if you think they're pertinent you're very welcome to include them, either within your writing or in a note to me so I can put it in. If for some reason you'd prefer not to be identified as to rank, let me know (in case I know your position and would inflict it upon you in print against your preferences). I usually use "Mistress" and rarely "Countess" so I can fault no one for preferring a lower title or no title.

    2006 note:
    Remember this was all 1991, and is provided for historical purposes.

  • In This

    Kingdom Differences & Regional Traits



    Life in An Tir

    Not Accepting Blows

    Campaigning for Peerage

    Relationship of Knight to Squire

    Peer Fear


    William the Lucky

    What are those chains really?

    Enhancing Arts

    How Important is SCA Membership?

    Copyright © Sandra Dodd 1991, 2006

    and missives: